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Live Commentary: Poland 0-0 Republic of Ireland - as it happened

Read how the Republic of Ireland stayed unbeaten under Martin O'Neill with a 0-0 draw against Poland in Poznan, courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute coverage.

The Republic of Ireland travelled to Poznan to face Poland tonight hoping to build on the promising start that they made to life under Martin O'Neill on Friday, when they beat Latvia 3-0.

Ireland's new boss made seven changes to the XI that he named at the Aviva Stadium for the reverse of a fixture which the Republic won 2-0 in February, under Giovanni Trapattoni's guidance.

They managed to keep Poland's star man Robert Lewandowski quiet throughout the first period, but could not make inroads at the other end as Stephen Kelly headed their best chance over the crossbar.

The hosts came at them after the interval, with Lewandowski's Borussia Dortmund teammate Jakub Blaszczykowski a constant threat, but Ireland hung on to remain unbeaten since O'Neill's appointment.

Below, you can read how the action unfolded at the Municipal Stadium.

Evening, all! Martin O'Neill could not have wished for a better start to his reign as Republic of Ireland boss, but tonight's trip to Poland promises to be a bigger test of his side than Latvia were.

Their 3-0 victory at the Aviva Stadium on Friday may have been morale boosting, but the result tonight will give O'Neill and Roy Keane a more accurate assessment of their squad's quality.

Team news coming your way imminently, and I can tell you that O'Neill has shuffled the pack and named a new captain as he continues to get to grips with shaping his own Ireland team.

IRL: Forde; Kelly, St Ledger, Wilson, Ward; Walters, McCarthy, Green, McGeady; Stokes, Long

O'Neill makes seven changes in total, with only Marc Wilson, James McCarthy, Stephen Ward and Aiden McGeady, a goalscorer in the victory over Latvia, retained in his starting XI.

Stoke City's Jonathan Walters is handed the captain's armband in the absence of Robbie Keane, who is out due to his Achilles injury. Shane Long takes on the responsibility of leading the Ireland line.

Long, who has only made five Premier League starts for West Bromwich Albion this season, scored off the bench on Friday night and will be supported in the Republic's attack by Antony Stokes.

There is a change in goal as O'Neill swaps Sunderland keeper Kieran Westwood for Millwall stopper David Forde, who started Ireland's last seven World Cup qualifiers under Trapattoni.

James McClean and Glenn Whelan drop out of the midfield, as does Wes Hoolahan as O'Neill switches from the 4-5-1 formation that he used against Latvia to 4-4-2 this evening.

Walters and Stokes are two of the three players selected by O'Neill to replace the aforementioned trio, with Leeds United midfielder Paul Green also given the chance to impress his new manager.

Everton defender Seamus Coleman is firmly first choice at right-back for club and country, but he is rested this evening with Reading's Stephen Kelly, poised to win his 37th cap, standing in for him.

Sean St Ledger partners Marc Wilson at centre-back and is the fourth Championship player in O'Neill's side, who come up against one of the best strikers in the world in Poznan tonight.

Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski, who scored 41 goals in his two seasons playing at this stadium for Lech Poznan, has found the net nine times in 12 Bundesliga games this season.

He could not find the net in Poland's 2-0 friendly defeat by Slovakia on Friday, though, or in their loss to the Republic in Dublin by the same scoreline in a friendly in February.

Ciaran Clark and Wes Hoolahan were on the scoresheet that night, but Poland have since gone to Wembley and given England a real game, so a repeat of that result tonight will delight O'Neill.

Around 10 minutes until kickoff. The Poland team news is finally out and coming your way now...

POLAND: Szczesny; Kowalczyk, Szukala, Marciniak, Pazdan, Celeban; Cwielong, Maczynski, Blaszczykowski; Sobota, Lewandowski

So, Lewandowski's Dortmund teammate Jakub Blaszczykowski is another familiar name and he captains Adam Nawalka's Poles, who include Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny in their XI.

PREDICTION: Things started so well for O'Neill and Keane but I think Poland may have too much for them tonight. I'll plump for 2-1 to the hosts, with Lewandowski to bag of course.

We are underway at the Municipal Stadion...

Cwielong looks to be playing off the left flank and latches onto a ball inside Kelly and attempts to pull a cross back to Lewandowski. It is behind the striker, but Cwielong was flagged offside, anyway.

Ireland make good progress down the right through McGeady, who many are tipping to flourish under O'Neill. Poland get plenty of bodies behind the ball, though, and force Ireland backwards.

The visitors are having plenty of possession in these early stages, but most of their passing has been along the back line. A couple of punts forward towards Long have been easily headed clear.

Poznan was the scene of Ireland's Euro 2012 opening game, and we all know how that tournament went - three losses and a group-stage exit. They will be hoping that isn't a bad omen tonight.

Lewandowski and St Ledger leave their mark on each other with a couple of forceful challenges. The Pole went down after the pair clashed in the air, but soon gained retribution with a thumping tackle.

Green wins a free kick in midfield and quickly releases McGeady on the right. His cross appeared to come off a Polish defender, but the referee failed to see it and ends up giving a goal kick.

In central midfield, Green and McCarthy have quickly grabbed this game by the scruff of the neck and have already broken up several Polish breaks before launching Ireland's own attacks.

No sign of an opening goal in this 20 minutes, but O'Neill will be happy with the way that his side have controlled the midfield, despite them being unable to penetrate the Poles as of yet.

Ireland shift the ball across the box and eventually to McGeady on the left edge, and the Spartak Moscow winger square up Kowalczyk before skipping past him and seeing a cross blocked behind.

CHANCE! The first real sight of goal falls to Stephen Kelly of all people, as Walters flicks on a McGeady corner to the Reading man, who heads into the ground and over the crossbar.

SHOT! Poland press high and pinch the ball from Green after Ireland fail to properly clear a cross from Blaszczykowski, whose low 20-yard drive is just about held by Forde as Sobota prepared to pounce.

Ireland try the same set-piece ploy as before, with McGeady delivering a free kick from deep to the first man, Wilson, whose flick on could have led to a chance but ended up drifting behind.

Superb forward play by Long, who gains Ireland at least 60 yards worth of territory by controlling a fierce pass into his feet before cleverly turning away from Pazdan and winning a free kick.

Half an hour gone here, and fifteen minutes have passed at Wembley too where England are hosting Germany. You can follow that live separately with SM, but I will try to keep you updated myself.

SUBSTITUTION: Sean St Ledger's frustrating season with injuries continues as he goes down with what looks like a muscle problem. He cannot stay on, and John O'Shea replaces him.

Set pieces are certainly the biggest source of goalscoring opportunities for both sides at the moment, although Marciniak's header from Maczynski's delivery was way off target.

HANDBALL! O'Shea is immediately involved in controversy as he blatantly catches the ball as Lewandowski flicks it over his head! The Sunderland defender was obviously worried about the Pole running through on goal but the offence was 40 yards out and his panic was perhaps not necessary. In-fact, O'Shea is perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch. It is a friendly, I suppose.

Walters wins Ireland a free kick on the right touchline and takes a nasty bump in the process. His appointment as captain tonight suggests that there is no grudge held between him and assistant manager Roy Keane from their Ipswich days, where the pair were believed to have fallen out.

Well played Marc Wilson, who produces some excellent covering defending after Poland had cut Ireland open with a quick and incisive break. O'Shea is turned far too easily by Lewandowski, who then attempts to slip in Subota but Wilson comes across to get to the ball first and clear.

Some lovely McGeady footwork on the left is ultimately in vain as he just runs the ball out of play. The fourth official standing a few yards next to him signals ONE minute of first-half stoppage time.


A very decent first-half away display from the Irish, that. They have contained Lewandowski and the rest of the Poland team with comfort and have had the clearest sight of goal in Poznan.

O'Neill's side did not particularly look a threat though, except from set pieces, which yielded the best chance of that first period. Kelly was unmarked six yards out, but headed into the ground and over.

UPDATE: Arsenal defender and stand-in captain Per Mertesacker has headed Germany into a 39th-minute lead at Wembley to mark his 95th international appearance.

STATS: Ireland had most of the ball in the early stages, but Poland left the field for the break having just edged possession with 51%. They have registered the only shot on target too, a low drive from Blaszczykowski which Forde saved. I don't think those figures give a fair reflection of Ireland's performance, which would have been pleasing to O'Neill.

Ireland get us back underway, with both sides unchanged for now...

CHANCE! Blaszczykowski nearly fashions a goal out of nothing by running at the Ireland defence. He twists one way, then the other and goes past two green shirts on his way into the box. The Dortmund winger seems to run out of ideas and room, though, and the visitors get enough bodies around him to force him into a tame poke at goal which Forde holds.

McGeady has certainly been Ireland's brightest spark, particularly when he cuts inside. This time he goes to the left byline and has three bodies in the box to cross to, but his delivery is way overhit.

Stokes has worked hard in that role behind the striker, but until now we had yet to see him link up with Long. He does here, though, flicking on to the Baggies frontman, who continues the nice interplay by shifting the ball for Walters to shoot, via a deflection, behind for a corner.

From the resulting set piece, McGeady's delivery is a bit deeper than it has been and Long manages to shake off his marker and leap to head towards goal, but just a few yards high of the crossbar.

SUBSTITUTION: Rather topically, considering the controversy surrounding Hugo Lloris of late, we have a head injury here, but Maczynski is not given the choice of staying on or not as Tottenham's goalkeeper was. The sensible decision to take him off is made by Poland, who replace him with Jodlowiec.

SUBSTITUTION: Another change from the hosts, and it is one that may encourage Ireland to go on and push for a win here. Lewandowski, who has a massive Bundesliga showdown with Bayern Munich ahead of him, makes way for home favourite Lukasz Teodorczyk.

McGeady is again the man endeavouring to find a hole in this Poland defence as he plays the ball to Stokes, whose low shot is weak and had almost stopped by the time it reached Szczesny's gloves.

SUBSTITUTIONS: That proves to be the winger's last contribution tonight as he comes off as part of an Ireland double change. McGeady and McCarthy are replaced by Alex Pearce and James McClean.

SAVE! From Poland's third corner of the evening they threaten an opening goal, as Szukala climbs highest to head the cross downwards, but close to Forde, who dives on the ball.

BOOKING: Pazdan is shown a deserved yellow card for a very nasty, high challenge on Walters, who is lucky to escape seemingly unhurt after taking some studs to his thigh.

McClean picks up where he left off from his man-of-the-match display on Friday night by surging down the wing and fizzing a brilliant cross across the six-yard box which just evades Long.

Apart from on that occasion, though, Poland have been doing most of the attacking since McCarthy was taken off. Wilson was very solid at centre-back, but now looks leggy in the middle of the park, which is an area that the hosts are now dominating.

SUBSTITUTIONS: O'Neill briefly brings on Kevin Doyle alongside Long, with Stokes making way. Five minutes later, though, Long is sacrificed in favour of Wes Hoolahan.

BLOCKS: Brave defending from Ireland, who must block three or four Poland shots in quick succession, the most dangerous (to the Ireland goal and not to the player's health that is) of which is from Blaszczykowski, which was goal-bound before O'Shea's intervention.

SUBSTITUTIONS: O'Neill seems to have spotted that the Republic were being overrun in midfield and responds by introducing some fresh legs in the shape of Glenn Whelan, who replaces Wilson.

Blaszczykowski is trying everything in a bid to break the deadlock and he collects the ball from Teodorczyk before travelling with it and having another shot blocked, this time by Pearce.

SUBSTITUTIONS: Two more changes from the Poles, who swap forward Sobota and winger Cwielong for Tomasz Brzyski and Pawel Olkowski.

Around 10 minutes, including stoppage time, left in Poznan. Can anyone find a winning goal?

Ireland have been pinned back in the last 20 minutes, but are defending stubbornly as Ward throws his head in at the far stick to block a Jodlowiec header. Excellent work by the Wolves man.

Ward requires treatment to his sore noggin, but unlike Maczynski earlier is given the thumbs up to continue. Poland make another substitution, though, introducing 30-year-old striker Robak for Blaszczykowski, who leaves to a standing ovation.

There will be SIX minutes of second-half stoppage time because of the number of subs...

The Republic haven't been able to keep hold of the ball for any period of time in this final half-an-hour and again they give it away as McClean knocks the ball out as surged down the left.

Szczesny lumps two balls towards the Ireland box, the first of which is headed away by Pearce, and the second eventually goes behind for a goal kick. That should just about be that.


A disappointing second-half display from the Irish in terms of their attacking play, but some bravery and stubbornness at the other end has earned them a very respectable draw in Poznan.

There were plenty of positives to take from the Republic's performance again, though, the biggest of which is that they are unbeaten and yet to concede under Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane.

That's it from me for on an evening where Ireland proved that they are very much a work in progress under their new management. Thanks for joining Sports Mole tonight. Until next time...

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Republic of Ireland's manager Martin O'Neill looks on with assistant manager Roy Keane before the start of the international friendly football match between the Republic of Ireland and Latvia at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on November 15, 2013
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